About cityhippyfarmgirl

simple connected living, city style

Running with the season

Late afternoon sunflowers that grow a little weary in the heat.

Coriander goes to seed, and the lettuce? Oh it bolted long ago. Along with the rhubarb who gave up the ghost, and the rainbow chard that’s now a tower of delightfully coloured seed. And pumpkins? Unlike last year where we were swimming in them, this year not even one.

Not the cherry tomatoes though, those tomatoes are still running strong. Although leave them too long and they will sundry right there on the stems in which they grew.

This is our summer.

Hot, windy and dry. So dry.

This season has been a funny one. So many of the plants just seem confused. Rain has been infrequent and barely enough these last six months. Garden space is now reduced to the smallest of small areas just to keep hopes going. There is still hope though, of course there will be a time for things to bounce back and regain their former glorious green. Time for the lilli pilli to regain its shiny leaves and time for far more bread to be baked when the kitchen is just a smidge cooler. The blue banded bees will keep coming, and that in itself is just gentle reminder to keep things simple.

Run with the season, do what we can, and instead spend time feeding that crucial soil in which the garden will grow from. There’s always something to do.

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How’s your garden going?

 

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The Sunrise Swimmers

Nearly two years ago I loosely started a project as a way of reconnecting to a city I hadn’t called home for a really long time. All I knew is, it would involve a camera and the ocean. As time went on this delicious project evolved into The Sunrise Swimmers. It’s something I’ve put my whole heart into, and next month this collection of portraits, seascapes and stories from the early morning swimmers of Newcastle’s iconic, Merewether Ocean Baths is launched. My solo exhibition is supported by Olympus and will be on for 7 weeks at Newcastle Library, and along with it, a limited edition book.

Am I excited? You betcha. I feel incredibly lucky to have been a part of this project and to have met so many wonderful, wonderful people because of it. Connecting with community is something that is incredibly important to me, and through this project I’ve done just that. Tapped into the most wonderful, sea loving community of people, while being able to tell a tiny part of their stories. Yep I’ve loved every part of it!

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To register for tickets (it’s free, yay!) for both the exhibition and book launch event. Please clickity click here.

Time for a seasonal siesta

It’s time for a seasonal siesta.

But before I draw the curtains and pop open the prosecco. I just wanted to thank you  lovely readers, for coming along for the ride. Whether you are a long term reader or just bouncing in for the first time. In a world where there a gazillion web pages to choose from to read, I truly appreciate that you’ve taken the time to stop by here.

See you in 2018 for more posts on simple connected living.

(or instagram if you are want to say hello over the blog siesta period 🙂

St Lucia Buns (lussekatter)

lussekatter || cityhippyfarmgirl

I don’t need much of an excuse to bake. Give me some flour, water and a small window period, and the likely hood of knocking something up to whack into the oven is quite high.

Given that I still have an enduring love for all things Scandinavian, sourdough and (as mentioned, baking.) With the traditional day to bake St Lucia Buns (or Lussekatter)  drawing near, it seemed as good as an excuse as any to preheat the oven.

My baking is fairly fluid and using what’s on hand, I’m not particular keen on excessive faffing or having ingredients I don’t often use. Saffron unfortunately sits as one of those ingredients. Traditionally used in the baking of St Lucia Buns, these Scandinavian bread treats really should be a little yellow in colour. I can happily report back however, that after eating two tray loads, the missing saffron threads were not missed.

St Lucia Buns (Lussekatter)

250g refreshed sourdough starter

1 tsp dried yeast

200g softened butter

75g sugar

675g of bread flour

200mls milk

200mls water

1 tsp salt

In a mixer*, add starter, dried yeast, flour, milk and water. Mix well for approximately 5 minutes, and leave for 10 minutes.  Then add in your sugar and softened butter, salt and mix again for a good 15 minutes.

Dough should be well incorporated and feeling silky smooth.

Pop the dough back into the mixing bowl if mixing by hand and leave to prove for a couple of hours, with a fold in between until doubled in size (or cover and leave over night.)

On a lightly floured bench, shape your dough in a figure of eight, placing a raisin into the circle you’ve just created. (Brush with a little beaten egg, adding decorative rock sugar if you want, as you can see I didn’t.) Bake for approximately 10-15 minutes or until a light golden colour at 200C

*You do all of this by hand, I use an Assistent Original for all bread making on a larger scale.

Between the pages

 

A distracting sandwich

The sandwich was distracting me.

I was supposed to be submitting things, sorting things, tidying things. All things related to the computer and to be honest, it wasn’t holding my interest quite as it should have.

The sandwich to my right however, was another story.

My whole-hearted attention belonged to two slices of bread and an assortment of delicious fillings within it. This dear ones, was a very special sandwich.

Truly, truly this was a kick arse sanga. Two pieces of dark rye sourdough with just the right amount of chew, Gouda cheese sliced thinly over and over to form a wall of delicate cheese. Prosciutto also sliced thinly due to its strong salty taste, meaning more of tasty hint, rather than a starring role. (There was to be no starring roles here, it was all about entwined flavours within the sandwich with no competition of flavours.)

On one side the subtle mayonnaise, creamy with a kick of tartness and just enough to lubricate each mouthful to reach the perfect level of taste bud comfort. The pickle…ahh, the pickle. The pickle really could have been a stand alone star, but here it had been relegated to sit amongst the layered slices. A fat pickle now cut into wedges of which were the perfect length for said sandwich. Not falling out of your sandwich at every bite as some substandard pickles will do.

Add in a forkful or two of locally made kimchi, and there you had it. Some lunch time goodness not usually seen at this level (for various lazy reasons.)

Nothing more, nothing less. The inside workings of a sandwich like this, are often those ingredients forgotten to backs of fridges, relegated to the condiment list, or perhaps hastily slapped together in methods that didn’t allow for the sandwich song to be heard. Not today though, oh no. Sing it did. All the way from the first mouthful, to the very last. Each bite a perfect distracting chew.

I had long since given in.

There was no computer work to be done now. Full attention was going to be given to this wonderous (and easily manipulated in one hand) lunch time goodness. It will was a distracting sandwich.

An assortment of delicious fillings

rye sourdough

prosciutto

gouda cheese

mayonnaise

pickles

tomato

kimchi

Documenting Life

Light catching your son’s dinner. The steam absolutely mesmerizing as you know it will last fleetingly, just as that particular tilt of the afternoon sun will do.

Friends stopping to chat. Really chat.

Seed saving. Slowly wrinkling up, ready for storing, ready for growing another day.

Tiny exhaling pauses in the week.

Surprise coffee and cake spent with people who make you laugh.

Long deep talks with strangers who make you think long after the conversation ends.

Sourdough fruit loaf, which was supposed to be panettone, but when it came to the crunch you simply decide there are other things to do in life and you really… just couldn’t be buggered.

Gardening that makes the crooks of your elbows sweat. Not the regular kind of things you usually take note of, but you are today as it’s a kinda documenting life day.

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Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it- FERRIS BUELLER

 

Out of the garden, grows hope

When you neglect your garden for a month over an incredibly dry period, the outcome is fairly predictable. Even so, it can still be a bit of a surprise at just how bad on a big scale it can all look.

With weeds running rampant, potted trees standing defiantly dead, and every leafy green edible gone to seed in an attempt at preserving itself for a later date. We did the most logical thing we could, and set to work.

Gathering shovels, hoses and unfailing enthusiasm, it was all bundled together with as many hardworking hours as I could manage to squeeze out of the day, to try to get this city garden back up to the functioning level it should be.

Several weeks later, while it’s still a work in progress, as I look around now, there are slow changes taking shape. No longer a backyard palette of baked brown, there are now green tinges that might just continue. With newly sprouted seedlings, tomatoes emerging from all corners, and two new editions that I’m tickled pink to be looking after.

From the dry overgrown mess that it had been, is growing something that often comes in many forms, and amongst the dedicated gardeners out there it’s also an old favourite… hope.

 

 

For the love of Pasta

 

For the savvy pasta eaters amongst us, you might have been aware that it was World Pasta Day this week, and while I seemed to have gotten this far in life without having acknowledged it, for 2017 that was going to change.

It was time to pasta up.

With no clear idea of what to make for dinner besides a generic pasta dish, I decided to keep it easy. There are many reasons for this. The primary one? I have no interest in spending half a day cooking a dinner that will be consumed in three and a half minutes flat. (Obviously longer if the kids hate it on sight.)

But they didn’t, of course they didn’t. It’s pasta. Number one crowd pleasing dinner time plate. Have pasta, can cook. They key to a rocking simple pasta dish is a great olive oil, great parmesan and a toothsome pasta. If you have those three rockin’ things, well the rest of the dish is up to you.

 

Quick and Easy Pasta Additions

Pangritata

rocket, garlic and lemon zest

cherry tomatoes and fresh mozzarella

chilli, garlic and parsley

Italy, it’s woven into my heart beat

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I needed to go back and to find a piece of my heart. It was still there where I knew it would be, I just needed to go back and find it again. 

Rejoin the jigsaw.

 

Seventeen years it took me to get back to Italy. Seventeen years that had been filled with life, a deliciously full life, but now it was time to go back. This time I would be returning not alone as I had done in previous times, but with a family. My family that was ready to embrace all things Italian.

And weave a little of Italy into their heart beat.